NO! The problem is NOT that the election was ‘divisive’

I’m getting sick of people saying this, so I need to speak up.

A story today in The Washington Post by the eminent Dan Balz, headlined “Raw emotions persist as Donald Trump prepares for his presidency,” repeats a fallacy that needs to be countered:

But everyone knew or should have known that the wounds from an election that was as raw and divisive and negative as campaign 2016 would not be quickly healed…

No, no, NO!

The problem is not that the election was “divisive,” or even “negative.” Those factors have been givens in American politics in recent decades. We’ve had negative campaigns across the country since the early 1980s, when the old guideline that a candidate would damage himself if he “went negative” died and was buried. Lee Atwater rose during those days, but the rule was being broken by others, such as Robin Beard, who used creative, negative ads against Jim Sasser in the 1982 Senate race in Tennessee (where I was at the time), gaining national attention but failing to win the election (which briefly seemed to confirm the old commandment against negativity).

As for divisive — well, it’s been pretty awful ever since the election of 1992, when bumper stickers that said “Don’t Blame Me — I Voted Republican” appeared on cars even before Clinton was inaugurated in January 1993. Since then, the parties have not been satisfied merely to disagree, but have increasingly regarded leaders of the opposite party to be illegitimate and utterly beyond the pale.

So it is that the terms “divisive” and “negative” say nothing about the recent election; they do not in any way distinguish the presidential election of 2016 from any contest that preceded it.

And yet we all know that this election was different from every one that preceded it in American history, right? So how do we describe that difference?

THIS is the difference, folks.

THIS is the difference, folks.

Well, it’s really not all that hard — although describing the underlying causes is more difficult. The difference is Donald Trump.

This was an election between a relatively normal, reasonably qualified candidate, and a grotesquely unfit one — a crude, rude, petty, childish, ignorant, unstable man who had done nothing in his life that in any way prepared him for the job.

You can complicate it if you wish. Feminists want to characterize Hillary Clinton as a groundbreaking candidate of historic proportions — which is silly. She was as conventional as can be: As a former senator and secretary of state, you don’t even have to mention her time as first lady to describe her qualifications. She was Establishment; she was a centrist (center-left if you prefer); she was someone completely at home in the consensus about the role of the United States in the world that has prevailed since Harry Truman. The main thing is, she was qualified.

Yes, she was the second most-hated major party nominee (second to the man who beat her) in the history of keeping track of such things, which is an important reason she lost. Some people who should have known better hated her so much that they were able to rationalize voting for the astonishingly unfit Trump in order to stop her, so that was definitely a factor. But aside from that, she was a normal candidate, from the usual mold, a person who people who knew what they were about — such as Republican foreign-policy experts — were comfortable voting for, knowing the nation would be in reasonably safe hands.

She was business-as-usual (which also helped sink her, as we know), while Trump was a complete departure from anything that had ever before risen its ugly, bizarrely-coiffed head to this level in American politics. It wasn’t just a matter of resume. This man got up very early every morning to start making statements — by Twitter before others rose, out loud later in the day — that absolutely screamed of his unfitness. A rational employer would not hire someone that unstable to do anything, much less to become the most powerful man in the world.

I need not provide a list of his outrages, right? You all remember the election we just went through, right?

TRUMP is what distinguishes this election from all others. TRUMP is what people are trying to get over — which we can’t, of course, because he’s now with us for the next four years. I ran into a former Republican lawmaker yesterday — a member of the revolutionary class of 1994, the original Angry White Male revolt — who expressed his utter bewilderment and sense of unreality that has been with him daily since the election. To him, as to me, the fact that Trump won the election can’t possibly BE a fact. Nothing in our lives prior to this prepared us for such a bizarre eventuality.

Yes, there are complicating factors — the populist impulse that has swept the West recently, which sometimes seemed would prevent Hillary Clinton from winning her own party’s nomination, despite her socialist opponent’s clear unsuitability and the fact that it was understood in her party that it was Her Turn. The roots of that are difficult to plumb. As is the fact that the GOP was bound and determined to reject all qualified candidates and nominate someone completely unsuitable — if not Trump, it would have been Ted Cruz, whom tout le monde despised. Both factors can be attributed to the populist obsession, but contain important differences.

So yes, there was a force abroad in the land (and in the lands of our chief allies) that was determined to sweep aside qualifications, good sense and known quantities in favor of the outlandish. And that helped produce Trump.

But still, particularly if you look directly at what happened on Nov. 8, the difference is Trump himself.

And that MUST be faced by anyone attempting to explain what has happened.

Ever since he started closing in on the nomination, I’ve been begging everyone in the commentariat and beyond to resist the lazy temptation to normalize Trump, to write or speak as though this were just another quadrennial contest between Democrat and Republican, to be spoken of in the usual terms. I was hardly alone. Plenty of others wrote in similar terms about the danger of pretending this election was in any way like any other.

And now, we still have that battle to fight, as veteran (and novice) scribes seek to describe the transition to a (shudder) Trump administration in the usual terms, even though some have admirably noted the stark difference. (I particularly appreciated the Post piece yesterday accurately explaining the similarities between this unique transition and Reality TV. — which is another new thing, folks, as we slouch toward Idiocracy.)

It’s a battle that must be fought every day, until — four years from now, or eight, or however many years it takes (assuming our nation even can recover from this fall, which is in doubt) — a normal, qualified person is elected president.

68 thoughts on “NO! The problem is NOT that the election was ‘divisive’

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    I have seen the analyses that show that the country is no more divided today than it was 8 or 12 years ago–pretty much the same areas are blue, red or purple as were before. I think what has changed for the worse is the apparent freedom a certain segment of deplorables feel to act out their racist, xenophobic, etc., impulses.
    And for the record, although HRC was “hated” widely, she garnered more votes than any white male presidential candidate in history, including the “winner” of this election.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Which wasn’t enough. And had she NOT had all that animus attached to her — if she’d been any other Democratic nominee in my lifetime — she would have won.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I don’t know. I have seen sooooo many alternate scenarios that purport to explain the ONE thing that would have made a difference.–from reputable organizations like Slate, The Atlantic, etc.

        If we had scrapped the Electoral College….Democrats have won the popular vote in six out of the last seven elections….

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Right. And anything that a reasonable person points to as THE cause probably does work as an explanation — take that away, and she would have won. And that works for the Hillary-hatred hypothesis: Had she not been so reviled the last couple of decades, if she weren’t such a bete noir to the right, she’d have won.

          Even the feminist interpretation that “It’s because she’s a woman” may work in this way, although I doubt it. There may be enough people who would vote against her because she’s a woman to have made the difference. But I suspect the number that would vote for her BECAUSE she’s a woman would outweigh them — although maybe not, since most of those people would probably vote Democratic regardless.

          Not belonging to either group, I don’t know how it works.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            One theory that works for me is that she is so hated and vilified because way back when, when she was still known as Arkansas First Lady Hillary Rodham, she dared act uppity, and it only got worse when she became FLOTUS. She personified the sort of castrating female that challenged the paternalistic structure of conservative evangelicals. She was reportedly held up as everything bad, vs. the submissive wife under the “servant leadership” of her husband. So, she did lose because she was female (and uppity way back when, before Sarah Palin shot her first moose from a helicopter)….

            1. Mark Stewart

              Yes, and this works for the animus towards Pelosi as well.

              For all that Elizabeth Warren represents and does she doesn’t gore the ox of this constituency the way these two women do.

              1. JesseS

                While I’m sure a lot of the hate for Pelosi is because she is a woman, I’ve talked to too many of her Democratic constituents who simply hate her policy (and feel that her compromises seem to be designed to make the base feel compromised).

                1. Mark Stewart

                  They are! It is called effective deal-cutting. So few people in our society understand negotiating. It’s something most people just are comfortable engaging in.

                  It’s a haggling world, the ability to find compromises that still actually move the ball forward is a hard-won and under-appreciated skill.

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              I look at it a different way, from my nonfeminist perspective.

              I think it may date back to her scornful remark about baking cookies.

              As the son and husband of stay-at-home moms whom I deeply respect, I found it pretty obnoxious. I think millions of other people did, too.

              It didn’t disqualify her in my eyes, and certainly didn’t keep me from holding her up as the only chance to save the country from Trump. Everybody has flaws. To me, that’s just one of hers. I think that for much of the country that dislikes her so much they would NEVER vote for her, that’s where it started. ..

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Oh, and please note — if a man had said something similarly snotty about women who stay home and “bake cookies,” he’d have been pretty unpopular, too. Perhaps with a broader swath of the electorate…

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          This business of Hillary not being a sufficiently viable candidate takes me to another place where I seldom go…

          As y’all know, it’s one of Great Unifying Theories that our political parties are extremely destructive forces in our society today.

          But in 2016, the parties were pathetic, ineffectual things that, were they stronger and more assertive, may have been able to stave off disaster.

          Many smart people tell me that the problem with parties today is that they don’t play a LARGE ENOUGH role, and I agree with them in this sense: We’d be better off at this moment in history if we had bosses — 19th-century-style bosses — who could choose the candidates.

          They wouldn’t have picked Hillary Clinton. Why? Because she had too much baggage, too many vulnerabilities. She certainly would have had no chance against a reasonably solid Republican like Kasich.

          But most of all, Donald Trump would never, EVER have had a chance at the nomination, were there any rational, self-interested gatekeepers in a position to look out for the welfare of the GOP.

          We’d have had a contest between, I suppose, Biden and Kasich, or maybe Bush. And whichever one won, we’d be living in normal, nonfrightening times right now…

          1. Claus

            ” we’d be living in normal, nonfrightening times right now…”

            I’m still trying to meet someone who is “frightened”, I have people who are upset and angry, but not frightened. I’m sure there are people who wake up shaking in their shoes every morning, but then they are likely afraid of their own shadow. If you’re frightened, you need to be more frightened of Congress than the President. They have much more power than the President.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Presidents have the kind of power where things can go very bad in a big hurry. The wrong word at the wrong time (and wrong words are Trump’s specialty) can create an extremely dangerous situation, before anyone’s had time to react.

              Congress moves more slowly, with more scrutiny. For that matter, these days it hardly does anything. What’s the last thing Congress DID? Obamacare. And the last thing before THAT, that anyone can remember? I don’t know — approving the Iraq invasion, maybe?

              Back when I was a kid, Congress was active, passing important legislation left and right. Now, not so much…

              1. Claus

                Okay you’re right, I’m going to go hide under my desk and drink some of this fine Kool-Aid being handed out. Hey look, Rachael Maddow’s picture is on the bottle.

                1. Pam Wilkins

                  You can be as dismissive as you want, Claus, but I live in a heavily Muslim area of Michigan, and I can assure you that lots of people–public spirited, decent, patriotic people–are flat out scared. And frankly, I’m scared for them and for all of us.

        3. Claus

          Don’t forget the Democrats would have won by carrying fewer number of states than the Republican candidate. Democrats typically only do well in urban areas of the country. The map is still strongly red when the votes are all in. Except for the New England states and west coast states it’s majority red.

          1. Lynn Teague

            And if prairie dogs and alligators were supposed to be represented in our elections, that big red map would be relevant. However, they aren’t and it isn’t. So, I’m still waiting for a good reason for someone in Montana’s vote to be worth more than three times as much as a Californian’s.

            1. Claus

              How is it three times as much as California’s? Montana has 3 electoral votes, California has 55. The only way your math works out is if the electoral votes were equal.

              1. Mark Stewart

                The 21 smallest states have a combined population equal to California. Those small states have a combined 42 Senators. California has 2.

                A state with 3 electoral votes (2 Senate, 1 House of Representatives) throws way, way, way above its heft; and the larger states are the losers for it.

                The Founders wanted to ensure that the States within the Union had proportional Senatorial representation as entities – but clearly they didn’t anticipate that massive states, in population terms, would be so under represented as Electoral voters. They engaged in Herculean efforts to balance and equalize all aspects of governance. So this failing is clearly that – a failing of our election system.

                1. Bryan Caskey

                  “The Founders wanted to ensure that the States within the Union had proportional Senatorial representation as entities – but clearly they didn’t anticipate that massive states, in population terms, would be so under represented as Electoral voters.”

                  Everyone stand back and don your protective gear. A lawyer is about to try some mathematics. 🙂

                  In the election of 1800 there were 138 total electoral votes. Of that, Virginia had 21 electoral votes, which was slightly more than 15% of the total. The smallest state (let’s pick Delaware) had the minimum 3 electoral votes, which was slightly more than 2% of the total then.

                  In the election of 2016, there were 538 total electoral votes. Of that, California had 55 electoral votes, which was slightly more than 10% of the total. The smallest state again had the minimum 3 electoral votes (again, you could pick Delaware) representing about .5% of the total

                  So, California doesn’t seem to be as powerful in 2016 as Virginia was back in 1800.

                  Just for fun, I looked at Virginia now. The Old Dominion currently has 13 electoral votes, which comes out to slightly more than 2% of the total…which is what Delaware used to be back in 1800. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

                  South Carolina is similar. Our high-water mark was in the first election, when we had 7 of the 81 total votes, or almost 9% of the total. In 1968-2008, SC had 8 electoral votes of the 538, which is not even 1.5% of the total.

                  Okay, you can all come out from the bunker. My attempt at math is over.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I need to start using smiley faces when I denigrate my own math skills. Over the years, I’ve convinced a lot of y’all that I’m mathematically deficient. Which I’m not. I could tell you what I got on my math SAT — which was terrific, the greatest, a really classy score — but that would be tacky.

                    The thing is, the one area where I am deficient is in dealing with the very simple arithmetic involved in handling money. And that’s mainly because I am so uninterested in money (I WOULD like to have a great fortune, but to me the main virtue in that would be having enough money that I never have to think about money again) that when the subject comes up — such as, when I behold my bank statement — my mind goes off screaming in the opposite direction. I find the subject of money, particularly my own finances, to be one that stultifies the mind and soul…

                    Also, I have a prejudice for the value of words over the value of numbers — even though, strangely enough, my verbal SAT score was lower than the math score. I HATE it when people try to quantify the unquantifiable, and draw conclusions on the basis of that. As you know, I rail against the assignment of numerical values to probabilities of rain. (Say, “There’s a good chance of rain;” I find it absurd to say there’s a “65 percent” chance.) Many of you take that as further evidence that Brad is an idiot.

                    But he isn’t. He just doesn’t like to see numbers, which convey a false sense of certainty, where words will do.

                    Mind you, I’d rather you not give me a pop quiz in analytical geometry or calculus, as it’s been a LOT of years since I studied that stuff, and I’ve found that the most complex math that life has ever demanded of me is the simple, single-variable formula for calculating a percentage — a over b (where a and be are known) equals x over 100. That’s about it. I’ve yet to encounter a real-life situation in which I needed to graph a parabola, much less do any of the far more complicated calculations I learned to perform in school…

                2. Claus

                  Well if the population is that close, those 21 small states should have a total of 55 Representatives, same as California. If you want California to get 42 Senators then you’ve got a huge task ahead of you to convince Congress that Senators shouldn’t be equal across all states. If that’s the case then there would be no reason to have Senators at all, their numbers would duplicate the representation of the Representatives and only the large populated states would have any control in Congress. We’d be at the mercy of California, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida.

            2. Mark Stewart

              If the news media is going to use a national map of the country in Red / Blue the least they could do is show it as a demographic heat map. Most of the land mass of the country would be a pale pink (Western half) and a rose pink (southern states). The Rust Belt would be Baby blue while the major metro areas would all be navy blue.

              Another interesting map would be to show GDP by county as a heat map. This of course would be not very “PC” as while the industrial farming areas would show a middling shade of green, most of the US would be very lightly tinted green – until you got to the 10 largest MSA’s where one would see deep shades of currency green. It’s a map more people ought to reflect on.

              This is an interesting example of the way things really are once one stops equating square miles to value.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                You lost me at “demographic heat map,” as I wasn’t familiar with the term.

                Although I find that in our politics, demographics DO generate a lot of heat, and not much light… 🙂

                1. Mark Stewart

                  I was trying to bring some shades of light to this discussion.

                  Einstein said “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. Binary two color geographic maps fail this test in that they give the visual impression that most of the country is politically one way or the other. But politics is about people, not geography, and these binary maps therefore fail to capture the information that is actually relevant. It’s better on a county by county basis than by state to state; but both fail to account for the fact that 10 million people live in Los Angeles County alone (approx. 4700 sq miles). There is a county in west Texas that has a population of less than 85 people – and is 677 square miles in size.

                  LA has a population density of 2100 people per sq. mile. Loving County, TX has a population density of 0.12 per sq. mile. A two color geographic map does not adequately capture what we are talking about here – people. Loving County would have to have an area of < 25 acres to be proportional with LA. On a binary geographic map, Loving County looks like it is 14% of LA's size. In fact, it is 0.0008% relevant to LA County in political terms. The two color political map overstate's the visual importance of the Texas county by 17,500 times.

                2. Mark Stewart

                  Right, which is why a heat map (shades of values) overlaying the geographic map is the best tool for the job at hand. An imaginary map based on population only (a bubble map) wouldn’t give that dual clarity to the political discussion.

            3. Brad Warthen Post author

              I don’t think it’s a good idea to refer to all those red areas as being filled with “prairie dogs and alligators.” The people who live there are bound to resent it.

              And if we went to more direct democracy, with California, New York and a couple of other population centers empowered to elect whomever they want as president, I’m going to have a lot of sympathy for the people who live in the vast areas whose culture and values and preferences will be ignored and dismissed. And I’d be hard-pressed to explain to those folks why they should live in a country run by people who not only disregard, but disrespect, their point of view.

              Population density is not an inherent virtue, certainly not to the extent that folks in the hinterland should be shunted aside…

              1. Mark Stewart

                I don’t think Karen was implying that “fly-over” country doesn’t matter. To me she was getting at the point of the disregard for population in these geographic maps. By counting “prairie dogs and alligators” she was offering a way to normalize the population disparity reflected in the geography-only maps.

                State’s have certain rights under the Constitution – but so do people. Both need to be balanced. Nuance matters here.

              2. Harry Harris

                “And I’d be hard-pressed to explain to those folks why they should live in a country run by people who not only disregard, but disrespect, their point of view.”
                Gee, Brad, you don’t remember the Bush/Cheney Presidency at all do you?

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Yep. That was a period in which Democrats acted the way Republicans have done during the Obama years — both parties acting like the president of the other party is not legitimate.

                  Which is the usual “divisiveness,” from which I distinguish what just happened…

  2. Karen Pearson

    Those who voted for Trump are going to be very unpleasantly surprised by what they get. Unfortunately the rest of us will have to suffer as well. I just hope that his 4-in-the-morning antics on twitter and on phone don’t lead us into WWIII. As for the economy, I have little hope.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Maybe so, maybe not.

      As grossly irresponsible as it is, he’s now threatening 35 percent penalties to any business that finds it in its interests to locate offshore. And his base LOVES outrageous stuff like that.

      While things like that awaken in me trait you seldom see — a respect for letting markets work as they will… I particularly believe in that when it comes to trade. Protectionism gives me the fantods. But his peanut gallery LOVES it…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Wait ’til they see how expensive stuff gets. As I said to the professor over breakfast, people who work in x industry want that industry protected, but don’t realize that so many other things they buy will also go up in price. Protect HVAC systems (Carrier), but your cellphone and other electronics and clothing and ….will go up, too. Maybe prices should go up, so we consume more thoughtfully, but something needs to be done to assist those who cannot afford to pay more for necessities. It’s like raising the gas tax without figuring out how all the working poor can get to their jobs.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          “Wait ’til they see how expensive stuff gets. As I said to the professor over breakfast, people who work in x industry want that industry protected, but don’t realize that so many other things they buy will also go up in price. Protect HVAC systems (Carrier), but your cellphone and other electronics and clothing and ….will go up, too.”

          Perhaps the silver lining of a Trump presidency will be bringing the Democrats and the Republicans together condemning protectionism.

          Perhaps he will unite both parties in disapproving of him in other respects, and thereby show us what unites us, and not what divides us. A common enemy perhaps? A blessing in disguise?

        2. Claus

          Expensive, such as health care? How’s that Obamacare plan working out for those who can’t get subsidized premiums? Why would electronics and clothing go up? None are manufactured in this country any longer. Would you pay more for a US made product vs. a cheaper Chinese made product? How about a shirt made in North Carolina vs. Bangladesh?

          1. Mark Stewart

            It’s hard to comment on such a limited understanding of macroeconomics and the history of trade policies.

            Our modern country requires a depth of technical literacy; but all this is also demonstrating the value of the liberal arts as a civic foundation.

          2. Harry Harris

            HCA rates are still below what they would be without the act. You choose not to remember the premium hikes prior to the ACA. I do, but you probably never paid your own premiums.

      2. Harry Harris

        It’s just more empty, unfounded talk. Threats he can’t back-up but doesn’t mind making – yet.

  3. Harry Harris

    The election was, indeed, divisive, but the polarization we have fostered allowed it to be more so. Trump was outrageous, but Clinton was her usual self – terrible campaigner who failed to maker her case falling for the foolish attempt to beat Republicans in a mudfest. She allied with her own version of Dick Morris, and did almost nothing to explain and promote her policies, plans, and positions. Instead, she hammered Trump’s negatives – already well known and excused by his devotees. Her handlers assumed a win (with coat-tails) driven by droning on concerning his many dangers as a candidate, but never making a case for those perceiving themselves to be culturally assaulted to do other than despise her. Rather than making the case for making abortion “safe, legal, and rare,” she shouted shrill (though justified) intentions to “protect a woman’s right to choose.” Who did she think pro-choice voters would support? Her negative campaign, rather than driving down Trump turnout, did the opposite. As far as divisive, this is one campaign in which neighbors didn’t put out many signs, largely to avoid strife and conflict.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      I didn’t put out a Hillary sign because I fear the thugs who support Trump, and my Facebook friends have indeed had their stickered vehicles vandalized (which may be a coincidence, but…). Frankly, I think Trump supporters should be too embarrassed to put out a sign, but….

    2. Margaret Pridgen (Maggie)

      I think Harry is right. While I judged Trump as unqualified and unacceptable by virtue of background, experience, temperament and character, I was amazed that many of my women friends — educated, thoughtful, professional, charitable and Republican-voting women — were really struggling with whether they could EVER vote for Hillary Clinton, even in 2016. I could not fathom that level of disdain. Maybe she could have reached more of them, but perhaps not without alienating the Bernie wing of the base. She had her own anti-establishment insurgency to deal with. That’s what all of Trump’s “She’s had 30 years, folks. Thirty years!” rhetoric was about — pealing off Millennials.

  4. Harry W. Bogaev

    Brad, have really found a familiar Voice in this article. You seem to have read my mind, and a few others I would think. This and your take on the autumnal feeling of The Bands music are so eerily reminiscent of my exact feelings on these topics. As a 58 year old in America today, I feel any good left in the USA slipping away with the afterodor of an extremely concerning presidential election. Good luck with your career * which, if these writings are any indication, should be going great guns very shortly.

  5. Larry Slaughter

    Yes, Brad, the difference was Trump. But here in SC 54.9% of the vote went to Trump. 54.6% of the SC vote went to Romney in 2012. Really???? SC voters don’t see much diff between these two? To me this begs the question of how low will we have to drop the bar to keep SC voters from pulling an R lever, no matter what.

    2010, Less than 30% of SC voted for Alvin Greene (or almost 30% did; half-full/half-empty) If you assume (broad brush I know) that 55% of SC voter tent to R and 45% tend to D, then more than 15% of SC that usually will pull D, said “Nah, can’t do it.”

    And, no, I don’t think equating Trump and Alvin Greene is too much of a stretch.

    1. Claus

      “And, no, I don’t think equating Trump and Alvin Greene is too much of a stretch.”

      Has Trump locked himself in his house and yelled at the media through the door? That has to be one of SC Democrat’s finest hours. I still laugh when I think about hearing the news that he was their nominee.

        1. Claus

          True, but you do have to admit that him being nominated as their candidate has to be one of the low points in the history of the organization.

          1. Larry Slaughter

            You make my point. Both Trump and Greene were spectacularly unqualified for the offices to which they were nominated.

            1. Claus

              That depends on who you talk to, and who their running against. Trump ran a more strategic campaign than Clinton, which is why he’s heading to the White House and she’s going to go home and try to learn how to play grandma.

        2. Juan Caruso

          “This was an election between a relatively normal, reasonably qualified candidate, and a grotesquely unfit one — a crude, rude, petty, childish, ignorant, unstable man who had done nothing in his life that in any way prepared him for the job.” – Brad W.

          Brad, you have certainly travelled to New York City on many occasions. Did you get out and circulate much with New Yorkers?

          By NYC standards (including those of lawyers utside of courtrooms, politicians and foreign dignitaries Trump’s demeanor is on par with their urban civility as well as Hollywood’s without a PC filter.

          Your real problem with the Donald is not that he is lacks the genteel civility of southerners but that he is dismissive of the Political Correctness regime in which D.C. has enveloped itself for preservation. Likewise, Trump has a survival skill too long absent from Washington — a businessman’s discipline that places truthful results above good intentions that are rarely if ever measured.

          It may be comforting to those who can afford so to live in an utopian world, but the truth is we do not. No utopian civilization has ever survived. The U.S. still survives, but the side of PC insanity and incompetence just lost.

          No wonder liberals, progressives, the Soroses and plain old democrats give little credit to and outright deplore our U.S. Constitution. Even the just deserts of sour grapes must be disguised to sweeten the perpetual whines of the truly childish, ignorant and unstable.

      1. bud

        I didn’t vote for Greene even though I strongly disliked Demint on a number of levels. I voted for some third party guy. That would have been a defensible vote even though it’s one for which I disagre for Trump. I’ve read dozens and dozens of accounts from all over the political spectrum and none are remotely satisfying to explain a vote for Trump. It really cannot be defended.

  6. Bryan Caskey

    I think the 35% tax on companies “leaving the country” is problematic on many levels.

    In general, my default position is for the government to not meddle too much in the private sector, so that’s where I’m starting from.

    On the issue of a company “leaving”, how do you write this law? Multi-national companies hire people all over the world and fire people all over the world. How do you prove that a particular job is being “moved”? It seems circumstantial at best.

    For me, I’m in favor of making the landscape competitive in the form of making sure that taxes aren’t too high and regulations aren’t too burdensome, and then letting the market do it’s thing, largely without the government putting its thumb on the scale. (Notice I said “largely”, not entirely.)

    On the politics of it, I have no clue how the Democrats would vote on this. Do Pelosi and Schumer vote against taxing large corporations , or do they side with Trump? Sort of puts them in a weird situation politically.

    Same thing with the GOP, too but on the flip side. I would guess that most conservative members of the House and Senate are going to be against a punitive 35% tax, but do they buck the President? Seems like this might scramble up the normal partisan divides.

    I could see Sanders and Warren supporting this along with some Trump guys who are just going along with POTUS. Ryan will be a very important person on this.

    Who knows. Maybe this is just Trump’s “negotiation”.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Mostly, y’all would not think of me as someone whose “default position is for the government to not meddle too much in the private sector.”

      I, for instance, believe in such things as workplace safety rules.

      But the key words here are “too much.”

      And what Trump is talking about is most certainly too much…

        1. Juan Caruso

          For every 1,000 pages of federal regulations there are on average over 116 lawyers employed by the U.S. in all of the various agencies (EPA, IRS, Labor, etc). How many 1000’s of pages has Obama added?

          Pres-elect Trump has suggested (only for the purpose of arument) that for every new regulation enacted, two be stricken. That, of course, is a nebulous benchmark for discussion, not a Trump edict. T

          he proverbial swamp has risen under Obama and must be drained so that government employees are held as accountable for the quality of their work and decisions as most employees of for-profit corporations are held, including firings for cause.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    Speaking of normalizing Trump, I like what Evan McMullin had to say:

    McMullin, a former CIA officer, said he had seen authoritarians around the world use similar tactics.

    “In our nation, power is shared, checked and balanced precisely to thwart would-be autocrats,” McMullin wrote.

    “But as we become desensitized to the notion that Mr. Trump is the ultimate authority, we may attribute less importance to the laws, norms and principles that uphold our system of government, which protects our rights. Most dangerously, we devalue our own worth and that of our fellow Americans.”

    McMullin called for a “new era of civic engagement that will reawaken us to the cause of liberty and equality.” He said the country can’t let the president-elect “normalize the idea that he is the ultimate arbiter of our rights.”…

    The more we come to accept this guy being president as a normal state of affairs, the more we weaken our expectations of the presidency, and of our government in general.

    Every grossly inappropriate thing he does and says MUST be confronted. We can’t think of his nonsense as business as usual. That would really be the end of our republic.

    We mustn’t lose for a moment our capacity to be outraged by this state of affairs…

  8. Pam Wilkins

    Brad, thank you for this post. Frankly, I disagree with you about many, many things–you grossly underestimate the sexism and racism in our society, in my view–but you are right on target with this post. Trump cannot be normalized. Thank you.

  9. Bart

    Trying to find the reason Donald Trump won? Look no further than 38.889931,-77.009003 latitude and longitude on a map of the United States and you will find the epicenter of the issues and reasons for Donald Trump being our next POTUS. In case you are wondering the location, these are the coordinates of the US Capital Building in Washington, DC.

    Being a representative in Washington is not a damn legacy and the last few years have demonstrated a real need for term limits. Unfortunately, the trough is crowded with the same faces, year after year after year, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. Until Washington changes, don’t hold your breath expecting things to get any better.

  10. bud

    Trying to find the reason Donald Trump won? Look no further than 38.889931,-77.009003 latitude and longitude on a map of the United States and you will find the epicenter of the issues and reasons for Donald Trump being our next POTUS.

    Nope. Not even close. For starters things aren’t really that bad. The unemployment rate is 4.6%. Wages are edging up. Few American troops are dying overseas. This just isn’t the cornucopia of horror that everyone is making it out to be. It’s just not. Still, there are many, many, many, many, many things I find objectionable to what congress has done over the last 4 years. And yes there is plenty to criticize Obama for. None of that even remotely comes within a thousand light years of justifying a vote for Donald Trump. Bernie. Yep. Jill Stein. Sure. Gary Johnson. Fine. Don’t vote. Sure. But Trump really is different. Brad has him nailed down correctly. Just look what is happening now with China. Apparently, according to the most recent reports, the call to Taiwan was planned within Trump’s inner circle for months. And now he continues to lie about it. Folks this is a dangerous way to conduct diplomacy. Sure we have a beef with the Chinese about currency devaluation and other stuff but we don’t just poke them in the eye and expect them to suddenly change the way they do business. And then lie to the American people? Is this what people really, really want? At the very least this could lead to a full on trade war with prices soaring. At worst we could end up in a shooting war over Taiwan. The Chinese don’t want war but they might accept it if this keeps up. Hopefully someone on Trumps team will dial this back a notch.

    1. Bart

      Sorry bud, we will have to agree to disagree and I respect your input. Thank you. Unemployment rate as reported may be 4.6% but the real number is closer to 10%. Ask the ones who stopped looking and dropped off the rolls and look at the high number of people who wanted to work but couldn’t find work. The numbers are a false positive. Wages are edging up for a few but not for the many. Most who are making ends meet are doing so by working more than one job. While fewer Americans are dying overseas, the situation is not getting better, it is getting worse. Assad is still in power and ISIS still active. The stock market is still propped up by the FED and is approaching the 20,000 mark. Eventually the FED will increase interest rates and probably very soon. And the wealthy on both sides of the aisle will continue to gain more wealth and live in their cloistered world along with other wealthy and privileged individuals, a club we will never be able to join or even get in the back door just for a brief visit.

      And I never said anywhere a vote for Trump was justified but I pointed out the reason Trump was able to get his message across and it is primarily due to the deep division that has been coming out of Washington via all of the news media and Fox is not the only one broadcasting a negative message 24/7. You can try to lay all the blame on Republicans but over the years, Democrats have been just as divisive. It has been a game of King of the Hill for decades and it finally caught up with both parties this election. If both sides had been willing to work together instead of “my way or the highway”, Trump wouldn’t be the next POTUS.

      As for Trump’s phone call to Taiwan, Obama has made some objectionable calls himself. You may not agree but you are not the voice of all the people, your voice is for bud, not me, not Brad, not anyone else. We may agree but consider the millions who do not agree and neither you or I can speak for them. Even though you and I don’t agree on some issues, I can almost guarantee if we sat down and had an honest conversation, we could come up with a mutual agreement on most of them by simply giving and taking until we reach an agreement. It may not be perfect but it would be the best we could do together. That is what has been missing for so long and career politicians on both sides have done nothing but exacerbate the problems by continually widening the divide by their identity political rhetoric.

      No, I did not vote for Trump but I didn’t vote for Clinton either because this country deserves better than what either one had to offer. I voted third party and would do so again.

      Consider one other thing you wrote. China is not going to be anxious to get into a trade war with the US and vice versa, it is not going to happen. They are very astute and if faced with the prospect of a trade war, it is in their best interest to sit down and negotiate. As for an honest to goodness shooting war, China wouldn’t have cause to start or engage in one. Why would China want to start something that could literally end up with China being wiped off the face of the earth and why would the US want to face the same end? We are not talking about a regional conflict, this would be a full scale world war. I don’t believe Russia, China, or the US is willing to take such a risk, do you? Trump is rattling a trade sword and that is about all it is, sword rattling. He is not stupid and he is in the end, a business oriented person who looks at the best deal possible. A trade war that would cause the US immense harm is not something I believe he would be willing to subject this country to. I hope I am wrong but time will tell.

      If nothing else has come out of this election is that there are enough on both sides, conservative and liberal, forget party politics, to recognize what a disaster November 8, 2016 really was and if we don’t forget it, maybe in 2020, we can right the ship again.

      1. bud

        I think it highly unlikely China will risk a shooting war. Trump has slightly increased that possibility. I believe he’ll tamp down his rhetoric but frankly he’s just so unpredictable that I’m really scared right now. I will also concede the Dems are not without fault. But the GOP is more at fault.

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